Youth vaping has reached Wallowa County and there’s no doubt as to the insidious nature of vaping products.
Mandy Decker, Director of Juvenile Services for Wallowa County, gave a presentation at Enterprise School on Friday, March 6, sharing what she learned at a presentation Dec. 9 at the 2019 Northwest Drug Symposium in Boise, Idaho.
The main thrust of what Decker shared was the secrecy involved in disguising and hiding vaping devices “in plain sight,” she said.
She showed what appeared to be a couple of ordinary backpacks that students often carry.
“They have all the basketball stars … they are definitely marketing them to younger kids,” she said.
But the backpacks have special pockets apparently intended for use to stash anything a youth wants to conceal. Inside the pocket was a card with a revealing message:
“Congratulations. You’ve found the infamous stash pocket. Now don’t tell anybody … Shhhh!” On the reverse was, “This announcement has been brought to you by Sprayground.”
Decker showed examples of vape pens — some of which were common Sharpies with the ink removed to make room for a vape cartridge.
“These nice entrepreneurs sell them for $30,” she quipped.
There also are soda cans, lipstick tubes, sneakers that have a concealment pocket in the tongue, a watch and an apparent USB jump drive made with places to conceal a vaping cartridge. There’s also a vape hoodie that has a vaping device built into the end of the drawstring.
“And you can get that for $54.99,” Decker said.
She told of an entire line of clothing — Vaprwear — that unashamedly markets its products to simplify and hide vaping.
“Vaprwear is all about making you look great, and simplifying your vaping experience. Our elevated products provide a dedicated pocket for your device,” according to the company’s website.
“I could go all day and show these,” Decker said. “They can make anything a (vaping) device.”
She said marketers are attempting to normalize vaping and paraphernalia , “and they’re normalizing it at a young age. … our kids are seeing this stuff at 5 or 6 years old. It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to do it, but they have access to it and they think it’s normal.”
Decker said it is legal to search a student for illegal paraphernalia such as vaping devices or drugs if a schoolteacher or administrator has cause to believe the student is in possession. Enterprise Superintendent Erika Pinkerton said that should such an occasion arise, a teacher should contact her or high school Principal Blake Carlson before conducting a search.
Decker told the gathered teachers and staff, “It’s important to know that if you think they’re vaping or you think there’s a vape pen and you can’t find it, maybe it could be on their clothing.”